Connect with Christ

“Can you sum up the entire Bible in one sentence?”  This question has been asked of me before and I’ve also posed it to others.  I’ve heard many interesting answers, such as “God’s instructions to us so that we can live,” or “God’s plan for the redemption of mankind from their sins.”  These are some of the better answers that I’ve been given—some weren’t thought out very well, so I won’t share those.  I want to give you an opportunity to answer this question before you continue to read this article.  Can you sum up the entire Bible in one sentence?

So what was your answer?  When I answer this question, I see the Bible revealing the heart of God to connect with His people.  When we start in Genesis, we notice that God created Adam and Eve in order to have a relationship with them.  Even after the fall, God continues to give people opportunities to connect with Him, and even paying the price Himself for this connection to take place.  God longs to connect with you!

We spent time in the month of June dealing with the steps that are necessary to take in order to accomplish our vision of “Living for God: Loving His People.”  We need to understand that our greatest purpose as a church is to make sure that people connect with Jesus.  While this is a simple phrase, we need to understand what this looks like, and how we plan to connect people with Jesus.

First of all, we connect people with Jesus through the message of the gospel.  A.B. Simpson, the founder of The Alliance, spent incredible amounts of time reaching for the disenfranchised and outcasts of society on the boat docks of New York City.  We need to be a people who are doing the same things. 

We are working with our ministries to develop strategies to equip people to talk about Jesus.  We also realize that connecting people with the message involves getting the message to the masses.  We do this through personal relationships (talking about Jesus with your friend or coworker).  We also use the benefits of technology to share the truth of Christ with our community, and even the world!

We also connect with Jesus through our worship services.  We are working hard to make sure that the music, Scripture passages, preaching, technology, and other creative outlets are leading people into the presence of our Lord Jesus and helping them connect with the Savior!

Jesus longs for a deep relationship with the people He created.  Some know Him, some do not.  My friends, we need to be in the business of seeing people connect with Jesus in deep, meaningful ways.    

A White Blank Page

The year of Jubilee described in Leviticus 25 is the year in which all property is returned to its original owner and all slaves are released.  This year would occur every 50 years and acted as a blank slate for all the people of Israel.  If one was falling on hard times and was forced to sell a portion of their land it would then be returned to them in the year of Jubilee. 

Isaiah references this year of jubilee when he speaks of the coming of the Messiah in Isaiah 61.  Isaiah says that when the Messiah comes it will bring about the year of the "Lord's favor".  Jesus then confirms that this prophecy was referencing him in Luke 4.  This makes sense considering the nature of the work of salvation in that it brings about a blank slate for all who believe. 

Depending on who you are and what your life looks like you might have a different reaction to this blank slate.  For instance, if you've robbed a convenience store and get arrested a pardon from the judge would be a welcomed blank slate.  Anyone in need of a blank slate would welcome a blank slate with joy and gladness but what if you didn't want a blank slate.  For instance, I remember a long night in college when I was typing out a 10 page paper, in a moment of exhaustion I accidentally closed my document without saving it.  I was left with a blank slate but needless to say I was not thrilled with the blank page staring back at me. 

Two stories that jump out in the gospels as being polar opposites are the stories of the rich young ruler (Matt 19) and Zacchaeus (Luke 19).  When the rich young ruler approaches Jesus he asks Him what he must do to inherit eternal life.  Jesus eventually tells him that he must give up all of his possessions to the poor.  The man walked away saddened because he had great wealth.  The story of Zacchaeus begins with a tax collector humiliating himself by climbing a tree to see Jesus through a crowd.  Jesus then invites himself over to Zacchaeus' house where the man repents of his sin and offers to give everyone that he has wronged their money back and more. 

Jesus offered both of these men blank slates but only one came to salvation.  The biggest difference between these two stories is that one man acknowledged his need for a blank slate and the other didn't want anything to do with a blank slate.  I think if we are truly honest with ourselves we can relate to both men.  In one way we know that we are sinners in need of forgiveness and a pardon but in another way we've worked so hard for the life we have it seems foolish to give it up for Christ.   

The benefit of following Christ is that we get a fresh start to live a life with him in freedom and joy.  The cost of following Christ is laying aside our lives and following him.  My hope for all of us is that we acknowledge the simple fact that the benefit far outweighs the cost. 

From the Desk of Pastor Levi

He Is Risen!

He is Risen!!  I love hearing those words uttered by the faithful during the Easter season.  I can remember my childhood days in my home church when it was packed out with people—some new but many who shared the walk of faith with us, everyone dressed up in their finest outfits in order to celebrate this great holiday.  But during the service, our worship leader, Lon, would always begin this most celebratory of services with this greeting that we find in Scripture—He is Risen!!  And we would answer, “He is Risen Indeed!!” 

            I am really excited for this year’s Easter Services.  We have such a great opportunity to celebrate with our church family the fact that Jesus is alive today.  The focus of the message that day will be showing us things that are now true because Jesus lives.  I’m trusting that this great reminder will draw us closer to the Lord.

            But one thing that I don’t want to have happen is the “post-holiday let-down” for that would allow us to go through the month of April and even beyond forgetting the wonder of the resurrection.  So, I’d like to give you a couple of thoughts to remember after the Easter holiday passes.

1.     No matter how tough life gets, remember that Jesus Christ lives and that this life on earth is nothing compared to eternity.

2.     If you know Jesus as your Savior, you are now a child of God.  And because you’re a child of God, you have an inheritance from God Himself.

3.     The joy of the resurrection can be yours every day—and this is what God desires for us!!!

May you all have a blessed Easter season!!

                                                                                           Rev. Adam K. Sellen
                                                                                           Lead Pastor